Our History in a Nutshell

We started in 1987 as Labor/Management Workplace Education, with a $43,500 grant award, a $6,000 AFSCME match, and an untested employer-union partnership.  But we set forth with lots of goodwill and a rock-solid belief in the UMass workforce.  We resolved to make a difference. 

Over the course of three decades, we’ve transitioned from a small, campus-only worker education program with limited offerings to a large, regional worker education hub, able to offer a full-range of learning opportunities.  During this time, we’ve doubled our core partners, quadrupled our teaching and support staff, and increased our annual budget some twenty-five fold.   We’ve raised more than $9 million on top of our base University allocation, receiving more than 190 competitive funding awards and launching 40 educational partnerships across the Commonwealth. 

More importantly, our participants have engaged, reflected, debated, and stepped up to the challenge.  They've acquired knowledge, sharpened skills, and broadened awareness.  They've advanced their education by pushing themselves, and by inspiring each other. 

Welcome to our journey. 

At right, please see alumni staff photos of our three former assistant directors, followed by a sampling of photos of alumni project directors/instructors/researchers/support staff over the years.

More history? Check out these links:

In 1987, Joe Connolly helped to found Labor/Management Workplace Education (now The Partnership for Worker Education).  He has served as Program Director since that time.  Amy Brodigan, Assistant Director, conducts the interview.

Joe, would you describe how Workplace Education got off the ground?

The original spark for the program came by way of a night janitor on campus, Tom Ball.  In January 1987, Tom arranged to meet me at the AFSCME 1776 office.  Tom shared a news clipping, a grant announcement that the Commonwealth was planning to provide funds for workplace education programs, employer-union partnerships, to develop worker skills.

Why Tom?  And why did he approach you? 

Tom had a deep interest in adult education.  He was a teacher by training.  At the time, he was juggling piecemeal teaching work, and working nights to make ends meet. Tom and I were both aware that few AFSCME members were taking advantage of tuition remission language in the contract.  Among a number of AFSCME members, particularly those wanting to advance, there was a real need to sharpen pre-college skills and pre-apprenticeship skills.  We both saw the need. 

I think Tom reached out to me because of my position with the union, and also because he was aware of my involvement with a series of worker education efforts.  For the past couple of years, as part of my dissertation research, I had been working with frontline workers across the UMass system, launching classes, and evaluating how participatory models of worker education compare to more traditional models of teaching.  By 1987, I was wrapping my dissertation research.  

So, you applied for the funding?

Yes.  But, first came the partnership.  Having worked with Fred Swan, the head of campus Training & Development, I asked him if the University might be interested in partnering with AFSCME to initiate a joint worker education program.  He saw the value and lent his support.  Likewise, Human Resources leaders Bob Garstka and Jim Coopee, and AFSCME president Dick Coach were incredibly supportive; they each signed on to the partnership agreement. Nancy Molin, from the Center for International Education, and I wrote the initial proposal.  We went big.  I assembled an Advisory Committee that included a former campus chancellor, department heads, union leaders, and faculty (learners were added later).  We got the award.  Secretary of Labor Paul Eustace led the program opening reception at the Chancellor’s House. 

Fred Swan

Fred Swan

Bob Garstka

Bob Garstka

Nancy Molin

Nancy Molin​

Dick Coach

Dick Coach

Jim Coopee

Jim Coopee

In 1987, did other models of worker education exist on college campuses?

I believe, without knowing for sure, that what we launched on campus was, and continues to be, pretty unique.  Just in Western Mass, alone, we’ve provided worker education services to employees at Greenfield Community, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke, and Smith College. As well, we’ve consulted for Harvard University, helping them launch their own worker education program.  The depth and range of our offerings sets us apart.

What initial sources did the program draw from?

Quite consciously, we drew from empowerment educators outside the U.S.: Brazilian educators like Paulo Freire, who taught here at UMass, and participatory researchers from central Africa and India.  It was as if we were applying a model of adult education developed outside of the U.S. to the American workforce.  One very American source for our approach was the Highlander Center, deep in the heart of Appalachia.  Sue Thrasher, who had worked closely with Myles Horton, director of Highlander, made the connection explicit.  Less consciously, I’m sure that we borrowed from the community spirit and community art of the Works Progress Administration, the Roosevelt-era effort to help combat the effects of the Great Depression.

What programming around the country has inspired you?

I’ll mention just a couple of examples.  I love the collaboration between the 1199 Training and Upgrading Fund, which serves nursing home workers throughout Connecticut, and their partner, HartBeat Theater Ensemble.  We’ve sought to collaborate with Steve Bender, director of that 1199 program, but we're still searching for funding to underwrite.  A nod to Harneen Chernow, and her work first with the Boston Workplace Education Program, then with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and now with the  1199 SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund.  I was totally inspired by the work of Harmon Lisnow, a towering figure in our field, and his team at the Institute for Career Development, out of Indiana, a partnership between the Steelworkers Union and various steel companies.  Their compilations of worker writings were extraordinary. The work of director Marshall Goldberg, Regina Robinson, and playwright Connie Alexander, all connected to the Association of Joint Labor and Management Worker Education Programs, carried that work forward with care and commitment.  There are many examples of vibrant career ladder programs, joint employer-union efforts; thanks to Fran Fortino for researching those guiding efforts.  Through the years, our staff have been invigorated by educators like Augusto Boal, by the adult education community up at Toronto, and by the folk education movement coming out of Denmark. 

What in your own background pointed you towards worker education?

I guess family, schooling, and work. 

Growing up, education and worker issues were intertwined.  My parents, particularly my mom, stressed the importance of education, libraries, books.  The granddaughter of a traveling teacher, she never attended high school herself, opting instead to support her family during the Great Depression.  I remember that worker concerns were always a hot topic of conversation at home.  Back in the thirties, my mother, in her teens, had helped organize workers into unions, and gotten blacklisted on account of it.  My father, a machinist, served as a shop steward for decades, until his factory shut down and relocated to the non-union South.  With the shutdown, a thousand jobs were lost in Fitchburg, a thousand people out of work, with most seeing their promised pensions pared to a pittance.  You couldn’t ignore these kind of events.  Looking back, I’m proud that my parents always rooted for the underdog; I’d like to think that their sympathies fuel mine. They triumphed over adversity; I look to them for a certain can-do spirit, a very roll-up-your-sleeves entrepreneurial spirit, in a sense.

Connolly's Parents

My Parents

As well, my own schooling pulled me towards worker education.  For me, the key experience pre-dates college.  The tracking of school kids into top, mid-range, and bottom groups left its mark on all of us.  No one came out a winner.  And no one quite believed “separate but equal.”  Whatever its merits, tracking seductively sets into motion lingering feelings of entitlement, division, self-doubt, and aggrievement.  Tracking tears at notions of community.  At the campus workplace, all of this is writ large.  For me, worker education is a second chance to build community; it’s an opportunity to bring people together.

And then, at a certain age, I became aware of how schooling, in step with the larger culture, has the ability to either affirm or undermine the humanity of everyday people.  Again, I believe worker education provides an avenue of redress. 

Finally, I’d been working for AFSCME Local 1776 since 1981.  What had started out as a summer Labor Center internship had quickly morphed into an extended stay with the union.  Here was social justice work, right in my own backyard.  Every day at AFSCME, I saw the need for worker education.  Plain as day.

I understand that Workplace Education originally started with foundational courses…

In 1987, focusing on those with the most pressing educational need, we began by offering workplace English, GED prep, and adult basic education.  Our target learners were campus janitors, trades people, grounds people, and food service people.  We hewed to a joint employer-union, and learner-centered approach.  

Within the year, realizing that our foundational skills courses applied to only a fraction of the UMass service-maintenance workforce, and that foundational skills alone were not sufficient to prepare employees for promotion, we proposed and then received funding to launch “Next Steps” offerings.

How would you describe “Next Steps?”

Mary Jo Connelly

Mary Jo Connelly

Sue Thrasher

Sue Thrasher

Daria Fisk

Daria Fisk

By 1989, our Next Steps offerings — problem-solving, communication, leadership, diversity, teamwork, and writing courses — were promoting employee engagement via skills applicable to one’s workplace and one’s hometown community. This constellation of empowerment offerings, with its emphasis on group activities, critical thinking, and confidence-building, began drawing campus and national attention.  Full credit here goes to Next Steps director Mary Jo Connelly and her team of five to seven highly creative teachers, which included later program assistant directors Sue Thrasher and Daria Fisk.  Next Steps participants started to:

  • advance via promotions on the job
  • take on leadership responsibilities at the workplace
  • present at educational conferences
  • co-teach in our classrooms, and
  • propose, and then lead, innovative projects here on campus.

Did the University take notice?

They did.  At the behest of managers, the University agreed to provide full work release time for employees taking our courses.  At the same time, in response to positive feedback from classified managers across campus, the University, via Human Resources, began to invest more base money into Workplace Education. 

The program at this point just served the campus, I assume.

Kindred Voices 2

Kindred Voices, the National Worker Writers Project

Actually a year earlier, in 1988, we began launching off-campus employer/union partnerships, the first of more than forty major projects to come.  Our aim: Open the doors.  Worker education for everyday workers in surrounding communities, and beyond.  Our furthest "beyond" involved our National Worker Writers project: we were providing worker writing courses from coast-to-coast, in an effort to identify the best worker writing in the country.

Speaking of expansion, how has the campus partnership expanded?

In 1991, USA/MTA and its clerical/technical membership joined the core partnership.  Not long afterward, we began offering computer courses, a few at first, then more and more.  At present, we have a strong menu of computer offerings.

In 2002, PSU and its professional employee membership joined the core partnership.  We are just now mapping several collaborations.

In 2017, via the Graduate School, we began serving graduate employees on campus as well.

Where do you see the program heading in the next several years?

Towards career ladders.  In 1996, we began in earnest to examine formal career ladders and how best to launch them.  Progress was incremental.  For many years we offered educational ladders, i.e., a sequenced line-up of educational offerings, from foundational courses to computers courses to Next Steps courses to career counseling sessions to engagement projects.  With industry sector grant awards, we constructed industry-specific educational ladders in our region.  But always the upfront workplace incentive component was missing. 

Finally, following on the heels of meetings with the Secretary of Workforce Development and the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, we launched our first formal career ladders project, SpringfieldWorks, in 2010.  It focused on preparing low-income Springfield residents, particularly women and people of color, for careers in the trades.  Job placement and wage increases were essential components of SpringfieldWorks.  In 2013, SpringfieldWorks expanded to become Community Works (greater Springfield and Holyoke). 

Community Works Participants

Several Community Works participants, from cover page of Business Monday, July 29, 2013


Then our 1199/Springfield project launched shortly afterwards.  ResLife/AFSCME career ladder conversations began in 2014, with the first training cycle in 2017-18.  Auxiliary Enterprises conversations started in 2016, and within six months full-blown career ladder activities got underway.  Initial Physical Plant career ladder activities began in the fall of 2018.  At the moment, we have five career ladder programs underway, with a sixth likely to emerge.

Over the years, challenges must’ve surfaced.  Which come to mind?

We serve people who are oftentimes on the edge, marginalized.  All of us struggle, but for those scraping by from paycheck to paycheck the struggle can be great and almost overwhelming.  In our work, we bear witness to disparate treatment.  In opening ourselves up to these realities, we incur a responsibility to do our part.  I’d like to think that more often than not we rise to the challenge.  I’d venture to say that most of us are most comfortable serving those with the greatest need.

Other challenges relate to our chief partners: occasionally we remind those labor and management leaders who might self-identify as oppositional… there does exist common ground for moving forward.

With the campus moving towards doing more with less, we do really appreciate the support of those supervisors who go the extra mile in making sure that there exist opportunities for workers to engage in worker education.

In this context, routine challenges really do seem routine: always deadlines, always outcomes to meet or exceed, always fluid payroll, a typical workday.

In three decades, what particular moments stand out?

Fabian Berrios

Fabian Berrios

Nancy Perwak

Nancy Perwak

Francis Martin

Francis Martin

Moments stand out week to week! Always I come away energized and inspired.  Here are a couple older examples…

As if time stands still, I can see Fabian Berrios burst into grin.  Fabian, a Maintainer who worked for ResLife, an AFSCME member, is just hearing the news that funding has been approved for the worker social justice radio project which he had proposed.  Eventually we broadcast more than 500 social justice shows, shows that engage workers as interviewers and as program guests. 

I’m at an Advisory Committee meeting.  USA/MTA member Nancy Perwak is making a point.  Several times she refers to Workplace Education as “our program.” To my ears, this is a pivotal stakeholder moment.

I'm with Francis Martin, the president of AFSCME Local 1776.  For well over a decade, Francis champions worker education, not just now and then, but at every opportunity, Monday through Friday.  He speaks to the importance of an educated workforce with union members, with the powerful on campus, with elected leaders from across the state.  Francis is articulate, learned, and fearless.  His is the happy warrior. 

I'm at one of our early exhibitions of worker art.  The gallery is jam-packed.  There’s a buzz in the room, lots of good energy.  I spot Hoa Le, an extraordinary worker artist from the dining commons.  Very shy, he’s standing by his display of art, surrounded by maybe a dozen family members.   You can see his pride. You can see their pride.

Exhibitors at gallery

Hoa Le, 7th from right

Speaking of pride, what program aspects give you a sense of pride?

I’m probably proudest that so many stakeholders — learners, supervisors, union leaders, teachers, campus faculty and administrators —have contributed to the growth of Workplace Education.  That has made all the difference.  And that, at heart, we are really a grassroots program.

I’m also proud that since its inception, our program has addressed head-on the issues of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and disability… sometimes fearlessly.  We’ve been fortunate to have been given the chance to lead some amazing voice and visibility initiatives on campus, efforts to address relations in need of repair.  As well, we’ve joined coalitions to combat workplace bullying, all the while promoting respect and dignity.  

Earlier you mentioned “going big.” Would you say more about that?

Looking back, I think that this idea of going big has been a constant, especially in regard to the hiring of staff and the gathering together of a great team of collaborators.  We’ve really managed to tap into the expertise and commitment of dozens of extraordinary people. 

I can think of so many examples where staff just took off with an idea and achieved unimagined results.  You, for example.  You’ve really grown our workplace English classes on and off campus; we’re up to ten language courses each semester.  You launched our first career ladders effort on campus.  Your commitment is off the charts.   Michele Kenney and the twenty-year-running Southern Hilltown project: look at their menu of offerings, pretty impressive! Fran Fortino and his team have long shepherded the expansion of our always-filled computer and technology offerings on campus.   Valerie Vasquez Alexander and her staff have brought our office management and support services to a whole new level.  Sonia Lindop and her staff are doing really ground-breaking career ladders work for Auxiliary Enterprises.  Jacob Carter and team are just beginning to do the same for the Physical Plant.  Look at the amazing creativity flowing from the Building Bridges worker art and immigrant voices project… that’s Jacob and another project team. Jeff Napolitano and his Community Works team are everywhere promoting pre-apprenticeships, placing one graduate after another into a good-paying job.  Leslie Fraser is always at the ready, willing to coach and mentor; she’s helped many a participant on and off campus.  And Elizabeth Gilbert is peerless is her dedication to early childhood educators.

We have an amazing group of people working here: you, Fran, Valerie, Leslie, Sonia, Jacob, Jeff, Michele, Melissa, Margaret, Amy P., Yi, Elizabeth, Roxanne, Heather, Chris, Julia, Rees, Larissa, Laura, Talia, Brian, Vanessa, Rebecca, and Kiara.  Your collective sense of commitment sets a very high bar!  Our history is all about people working together to ratchet up expectations and outcomes.

Also, a special thank you to Advisory Committee Chairs Grant Ingle, Sarah Poissant, Anne Moore, and Gary Bernhard… each have offered invaluable support.   We’ve been blessed by the active participation of eighty-five Advisory Committee members over the years, people highly committed to the promise of worker education.

Grant Ingle

Grant Ingle

Sarah Poissant

Sarah Poissant

Anne Moore

Anne Moore

Gary Berhard

Gary Bernhard

Lessons learned?

One lesson that I’ve learned: co-ownership of worker education is all-important — employers, unions, and employees each need to engage.  Another lesson:  co-investment makes all the difference.  After all, we are all stakeholders.  We are all in this together. 




Year-by-Year Highlights

What follows below is a chart to illustrate our growth from 1987 to the 2003 midpoint to the present.

Circa 1988 offerings

Circa 2003 offerings

Circa 2018 offerings


  • 4 Workplace English courses
  • 2 Math, Reading, Writing courses
  • 2 GED Prep courses



  • 2 fairly small projects


  • 4 Workplace English courses
  • 2 Math, Reading, Writing courses
  • Upfront Worker Radio
  • 2 Workplace Writing courses
  • 1 Fireside Chat course: Dialogues with Movers and Shakers
  • 1 Leadership  and Communication course
  • A series of career growth courses
  • 8 Workplace Computer courses



  • The Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center
  • Displaced Worker Services for former Ames employees
  • Roundtable Liaison Services
  • Sisters of Providence Workplace English
  • HCAC Services



  • 12 Workplace English courses
  • 2 Workplace Spanish courses
  • 2 HiSet Prep courses
  • 4 Workplace Writing courses
  • 6 Leadership and Communication courses
  • 1 Managing Change course
  • 14 Workplace Computer courses
  • 3 Green Energy workshops
  • 10 Career Growth workshops
  • 10 Financial Health workshops
  • 4 Wellness courses
  • 2 Building Bridges courses
  • 10 Intro to Anti-bullying workshops (w/WLD)
  • Career Advising sessions
  • Tailored Short-term Departmental Offerings
  • Career Ladders programs (UMass Dining Services)
  • Career Ladders program (Residential Life/AFSCME)
  • Building Bridges Voice and Visibility events



  • A many-partner 240-hour pre-apprenticeship program, Community Works (greater Springfield/Holyoke)
  • The Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center, large menu of offerings
  • The SEIU/1199 workplace English Career Ladders Program (Springfield)
  • Workplace English at Amherst College





With that sense of our annual offerings, here’s a quick spin through the years if you’d like, really just a listing of accomplishments.  We hope to rework many of these bulleted items into a more readable and compelling format, for what’s missing here is the very heart of our program: the voices, images, and stories of our frontline workers — their dreams, struggles and accomplishments.  But stay tuned.  A more thoughtful glimpse into our history is surely around the bend. 


  • Re-branding of program as The Partnership for Worker Education
  • Re-launch of program web site
  • Second annual Building Bridges Showcase event (immigrant voices, worker art, CESL art tower installations): 90+ employee participants
  • Launch of Facilities and Campus Services Career Ladder project


  • A three-month Building Bridges Exhibition of Worker Art at Science and Engineering Library (longest-ever exhibition of worker art on campus)
  • Culinary Orientation for new UMass Dining employees
  • UMass Dining New Employee Welcome Packet
  • Training of Trainers for UMass Dining Orientation instructors
  • LMWE promotional video
  • Building Bridges Showcase event (immigrant voices, worker art, CESL art tower installations)
  • First graduates of ResLife/AFSCME/LMWE Maintainers to Trades program
  • Community Works graduates its 2018 class


  • Launch of ResLife/AFSCME/LMWE Maintainers to Trades program
  • Launch of comprehensive workforce development services for Auxiliary Enterprises
  • Launch of workplace English services for graduate employees on campus
  • Consultation services to UMass Dartmouth
  • We are now teaching 112 courses per year


  • A second article in the Washington Post that speaks to our early childhood educator training model
  • Comprehensive Survey of Employee Feedback Concerning Campus Recreation Services
  • Pre-apprenticeship services offered to the Worcester and Boston Building Pathways programs
  • Second extension of Community Works pre-apprenticeship services (Massachusetts Department of Transportation)
  • A variety of services offered to College of Education employees
  • Survey assessment report for Campus Recreation, with 1,300 respondents


  • Provide background information and industry contacts to New York Times Magazine reporter for article in the works on early childhood educators (published in spring of 2018)
  • Author, Anti-Workplace Bullying Educational Services on Campus
  • First extension of Community Works pre-apprenticeship services (Commonwealth Corporation)
  • Continuation  of MassTERI, services for school nutrition workers across the state, our largest award to date
  • A first article in the Washington Post that speaks to our early childhood educator training model
  • Start of collaboration with Professor Ellen Pader and her focus on oral histories of frontline workers (to present))


  • Co-teach mandatory Introduction to Anti-Bullying Workshops on campus (2014 to present)
  • Launch tailored computer instruction services to USA/MTA members
  • Launch ongoing workplace English services to night custodial employees
  • Legislature passes Trust Fund bill for LMWE


  • Panelist at University of Massachusetts Symposium on Workplace Bullying
  • Citation Award from Massachusetts State Senate for Exemplary, Innovative, and Successful Worker Education Services
  • LMWE 25th Anniversary Celebration
  • Two-year extension funding for our Early Childhood Educator project
  • Launch of Community Works, our pre-apprenticeship program for greater Springfield/Holyoke residents, particularly women and people of color
  • Launch of MassTERI, services for school nutrition workers across the state, our largest award to date
  • Sale of Kindred Voices across US


  • Chair, Education Sub-committee of Chancellor’s Committee on Workplace Climate and Bullying (to present)
  • Publication of Kindred Voices II, the best in American worker writing
  • Help launch campus workplace bullying survey , more than 2,300 employees complete survey
  • Launch of our multi-year Workplace English Services for SEIU 1199 Members project, Springfield (to present)
  • LMWE Kindred Voices classes held in California, Virginia, and Pennsylvania
  • Launch of workplace English instruction at Amherst College (to present)
  • Participate in statewide advisory group on worker education, convened by Department and Elementary and Secondary Education


  • Civic Engagement Award, presented by the Lieutenant Governor
  • Provide Workplace Civility training to more than 1,000 campus employees
  • Davis Foundation provides first of several supplemental funds for our Early Childhood Educator project


  • Help launch Campus Coalition against Workplace Bullying, facilitate steering committee (2010-12)
  • Computer services provided to the Massachusetts Nurses Association
  • Launch of the SpringfieldWorks pre-apprenticeship program
  • Launch of our Springfield/Holyoke Project for Early Childhood Educators
  • Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Worker Education Program project, funded with foundation monies


  • Launch of latest worker education services for Greenfield Community College employees
  • Workforce needs analysis services for Cooley Dickinson Hospital
  • Consultation services to PSU at UMass Boston
  • Launch of tailored courses to College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (to present)
  • Tailored services to ResLife and to the DuBois Library


  • Launch of City of Westfield/AFSCME services
  • Nathan Cummings Foundation award to support online Kindred Voices
  • Launch of Educational Support Services project
  • We are teaching 46 courses per year
  • Civic Engagement and Service Learning designates LMWE as a core partner, more than 30 undergraduates receive credit for tutoring in LMWE classes


  • Front-page Hampshire Gazette article on our “Older Worker in the Education Industry” project (2007)
  • Launch of “Older Worker in the Education Industry” Project, the largest workforce development grant ever to our region (serving four employers and four unions) with Regional Employment Board
  • Major funding contributions to LMWE by the Physical Plant
  • Launch of Central Berkshires needs assessment project
  • Presentation of BayState Works Project at Regional Employment Board
  • 97th meeting of Advisory Committee: Sarah Poissant, Chairperson
  • Second LMWE Trust Fund Memorandum of Agreement, signed by the University, AFSCME, USA/MTA, and PSU


  • USA/MTA member, Aggie Mitchkoski, begins co-teaching a series of Next Steps courses
  • Commonwealth Corporation video-documents our BayState Works "Promising Practice” at Smith College for national distribution
  • More than 300 campus employees sign up for Fall offerings, long waiting lists for some courses
  • UpFront! Worker Radio celebrates 10th anniversary, guests this year include UMass President Jack Wilson and Senator Ed Brooke
  • Launch of  Springfield City Cafeteria Workers Project
  • Battery of computer courses offered to campus frontline staff
  • Host campus visit of Clare Moore, Director of Worker Education for the Congress of Labor (Ireland)
  • LMWE Trust Fund Agreement signed in July
  • Workplace Needs Assessment for Springfield City Cafeteria Workers
  • LMWE Base-funding Understanding signed, separate from Trust Fund
  • Grant Ingle, Advisory Committee Chair since program inception, retires; Julie Nelson and Maureen Carney serve as Interim Co-chairs


  • Second consultation to Harvard University, How to Initiate Next Steps Course Offerings
  • Significant funding contribution to LMWE by Administration and Finance
  • BayState Works Project highlighted at Franklin/Hampshire Regional Employment Board’s Legislative Breakfast
  • National Presentation on Issues of Caste and Class (great reviews) at Association conference in New York City
  • Legislative testimony on workforce development reform
  • Agreement on LMWE trust fund formula in September
  • Front-page Springfield Republican article on our BayState Works Project, plus coverage by three additional news outlets
  • Launch of BayState Works Project, the largest workforce development grant ever to our region (serving five employers, four unions, three community groups) with Greenfield Community and Regional employment Board


  • First LMWE Annual Report
  • Participation in Workforce Solutions, a statewide workforce advocacy and reform group
  • Creation of 15-partner regional partnership around educational ladders
  • Presentation on UpFront! Worker Radio at national conference of the Association of Joint Labor/Management Education Programs
  • Initiation of national collaborations around issues of classism
  • Significant funding contribution to LMWE by Auxiliary Services
  • Keynote presentation on LMWE at Workforce Solutions conference, Holyoke Community College
  • Participation on National Writing Project sponsored by the Association of Joint Labor/Management Education Programs
  • UpFront! Worker Radio highlighted in national newsletter of the Association of Joint Labor/Management Education Programs
  • Significant funding contribution to LMWE by AFSCME Local 1776
  • Meeting with president of Greenfield Community College,  F/HREB executive director, University Without Walls director, various GCC deans, and LMWE around development of regional education ladders
  • Launch of workforce needs assessment and education services to city of Westfield
  • Appointment to Regional Employment Board
  • Advisory Committee begins year-long focus on issues of caste and class


  • Launch of campus tutoring project with Commonwealth College and Disability Services
  • State recognition for pilot Displaced Workers Education & New Jobs project
  • Celebrating LMWE, outpouring of hundreds of letters by participants and partners
  • Start of workplace education services at Hasbro in East Longmeadow


  • Launch of pilot project for displaced workers and new jobs placement
  • Launch of workforce needs assessment at U.S. Tsubaki in Chicopee
  • Conference presentation at the Worker Rights Conference, Western New England College of Law
  • Conference presentation at Network 2002
  • SEIU Unit B (later PSU) joins the core LMWE partnership
  • Conference presentation at MATSOL
  • Conference presentation at the Skills Summit, Holyoke Community College


  • State cuts to adult education.  400 letters from campus support adult basic education.  Most cuts restored.
  • First Worker Arts & Crafts Fair on campus (with USA/MTA and AFSCME)
  • Opening of We Are More Than You See: An Exhibition of Worker Art III
  • Consultation to the New England Healthcare Employees Union and The Connecticut Nursing Homes Training and Development Trust Fund
  • Launch of Co-Motion, a mock pilot journal of popular education intended for distribution in Canada and the United States (with the Peoples’ Institute and Catalyst Centre)
  • Launch of employee/student mentoring project
  • Creation of 19 member partnership for BEST application funding (not awarded this go around, but see 2005)
  • Two conference presentations at MATSOL
  • Conference presentation at Network 2001
  • Advisory Committee shapes a grant proposal (on issues of class)
  • Country Journal highlights Southern Hilltown Adult Basic Education Center
  • AFSCME International profiles LMWE participant, Pisey Kong


  • Public reading by frontline workers and publication of We Are More Than You See: Writing Our Lives
  • First Annual LMWE Celebration
  • Launch of a dozen task forces on campus around innovative ideas for Career Growth
  • Launch of the Career Growth and Learning Project
  • Worker-centered career counseling offered (first-time ever on campus)
  • Consultation provided to Harvard University around worker education issues
  • The Changes Project Report (impact of changing workplace on worker education) issued to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Article in The Change Agent on UpFront! Worker Radio and Employee Empowerment
  • Continuation worker education services at Sisters of Providence
  • Technical Writing course for Five Colleges
  • Two presentations at statewide conference, Network 2000
  • First direct, non-state-subsidized employer contract (with Tubed Products)


  • Debut of Diversity and Social Justice film series
  • Opening of worker art exhibition, Is Anybody Listening?  Domestic Violence, Workplace Violence, Sexual Assault, and Gay-bashing: The Experience Rendered in Words and Pictures  (illustrating personal testaments of experienced abuse as well as political torture)
  • Launch of UMass participation in College for a Day
  • Launch of worker education services at Ames Distribution Center in Westfield
  • Campus conference on disabilities issues
  • Launch of the Southern Hilltown Adult Education Center
  • Publication of state-wide manual on Workplace Education, LMWE co-authored three chapters (on planning and evaluation, program institutionalization, and labor/management partnerships)
  • Start of Ames Distribution Center workforce needs analysis
  • Workshop on classism issues for Housing Services


  • Public reading by frontline workers and publication of From A Whisper To A Roar
  • OERI Research Project
  • Survey of campus workers concerning issues of classism
  • Launch of worker education services at Spruce Manor in Springfield
  • Launch of Roundtable liaison services, worker education services to area labor and business
  • Labor/Management Workplace Education and Labor, graduate course presentation on campus
  • Co-facilitation of conference presentation, Leadership for Classified and Professional Employees, UMass


  • Launch of worker education services at Easthampton Community Center and at Tubed Products
  • Public reading by frontline workers and publication of Somewhere in Time: We Are More Than You See
  • Exhibition of Worker Art (with AFSCME and USA/MTA), We Are More Than You See II
  • Launch of Class Intersections, with The Stonewall Center, addressing issues of classism on campus
  • Valley Advocate on UpFront! Worker Radio, “Best listen in time slot” 
  • UpFront! Worker Radio wins WMUA award
  • Publication of ESOL Stories
  • Proposal to U.S. Department of Labor proposal for participatory research study of  adult education, immigration reform, welfare reform, and the changing workplace (awarded)
  • Launch of At Risk Youth Project for Franklin and Hampshire counties
  • Host: Eight visiting Philippine adult educators
  • Chancellor Scott engages on worker education at LMWE Advisory Committee meeting
  • Department of Education Monograph, 99 Attributes in a Row of an Ideal Workplace Education Course in Higher Education
  • Department of Education Monograph, Reality Check: How Do We Measure Up?  Real versus Ideal, LMWE Courses Under the Spotlight
  • Department of Education Monograph, A Preliminary Outline of Issues in Public Higher Education, A Few Observations for Workplace Education Practioners


  • Public reading by frontline workers and publication of Reflections Beneath the Surface: We Are More Than You See
  • National satellite broadcast, Meaningful Worker Involvement in Workplace Education
  • Video, Profile of LMWE
  • Television profile of LMWE’s UpFront! Worker Radio and Voices of Diversity video on Real-to-Reel (Archdiocese of Springfield television)
  • International conference (Pedagogy of the Oppressed) presentation, First-time LMWE Participants Speak
  • Launch of UpFront! Worker Radio, addressing issues of diversity and social justice from a worker’s perspective, first in nation type of offering
  • LMWE codified in AFSCME/UMass collective bargaining agreement
  • Start of long-term discussion within Advisory Committee on worker education and career ladders
  • AFSCME Hazardous Waste Training of Trainers
  • First LMWE course co-taught by a frontline worker
  • Host of six-state Workplace Education Consortium Conference


  • Education for Displaced Workers at the Holyoke Worker Assistance Center
  • Conference presentation, Voices of Unity/Visions of Diversity
  • Voices of Unity/Visions of Diversity, a diversity video produced and written by frontline workers on campus, first time a LMWE participant co-facilitates a project
  • Workshops for Housing Services Wellness Week
  • Launch of worker education project at Northfield Mt. Hermon
  • Mini-course for adult educators from across state, Literacy and Beyond: Creative and Empowering Approaches to Worker Education
  • Launch of worker education at Tubed Products
  • Conference presentation, Curriculum Development: Involving Workers in the Development Process
  • A diversity course for Greenfield Community College employees
  • Launch of Workplace ESOL at Smith & Wesson in Springfield


  • We Are More Than You See: An Exhibition of Worker Art, the first-ever collected showing of worker art on campus, main co-sponsor: AFSCME Local 1776
  • Whose Agenda: A History of Worker Education, a graduate-level LMWE course sponsored by the Labor Center
  • Awarded Diversity Teams, a major UMass Regents grant to the Amherst campus around issues of diversity
  • Diversity Discussion and Forum Series for AFSCME Leaders, first time LMWE participants propose a grants writing idea (Diversity Video), later, first time LMWE participants help grants write (for Diversity Video)
  • First time a frontline worker tutors in an adult basic education class
  • Conference presentation, Visions of Worker Empowerment: The Next Steps Approach
  • Community and Work Project provided to residents of Amherst, Pelham, Hadley, and Belchertown through a CDBG award
  • Collaboration with Housing Services and campus unions around launch of Housing Services Labor/Management Wellness Initiative, based on non-funded LMWE proposal for a campus-wide wellness program


  • Oral History Project with the Northampton Labor Council
  • Training of Trainers provided to UMass at Lowell
  • Conference panelist, Innovative Approaches to Diversity Education with Frontline Employees
  • First time frontline workers in an LMWE course (Leadership) propose the launch of a new LMWE course (stress and communication issues)
  • Launch of worker education project at Smith College
  • Launch of Trainer of Trainers series at UMass Lowell
  • Diversity Education Project for AFSCME Leaders, this marks first time frontline workers develop curriculum for a LMWE course and, later, first time frontline workers present in a LMWE course
  • Single Stories, by participant Hoa Le


  • Action Research course for AFSCME Local 1776
  • Orange Community Education Project Services, a collaboration with the Literacy Project
  • Communication and Organizational Issue for Archeological Services
  • Supervisory Training for Auxiliary Service Supervisors
  • Launch joint regional partnership with the Employers Association of Western Massachusetts and the Northampton Labor Council
  • First time LMWP participants present at a statewide conference
  • A Three-phrase Proposal for Development and Training (an integrated total quality approach)


  • 500 letters forwarded from campus to Boston in support of worker education in the state
  • New York Times profiles LMWE’s empowerment approach
  • New Readers Press distributes a video of LMWE workplace ESOL instruction
  • Commercial Drivers License course to 150 Physical Plant employees
  • Pilot Leadership Practicum for Housing Employees
  • Conference presentation, Developing an Employee Education Program, Network ‘91
  • Conference presentation, Effective Workforce Literacy Programming, AFSCME International Employee Education Conference
  • Conference Presentation, Bridging Theory to Practice in Adult Literacy, Greenfield Community College
  • USA/MTA joins LMWE core partnership
  • Workplace ESOL class produces two booklets: About Ourselves and Recipes from Workplace Education
  • Both the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Carnegie Commission make reference to LMWE
  • Program participants join the LMWE Advisory Committee


  • National New Ideas Award from the College and University Personnel Association for our Empowerment Education for Blue-collar Workers
  • Next Steps launches workplace change series
  • Launch of collaboration with the Teams Project (undergraduates as tutors) from the School of Education
  • Launch of Career Enhancement and Adult Basic Offerings for Department of Public Works state employees
  • Start of Tripartite Learner Acceptance Committees (managers, union reps, and learners)
  • Launch of worker education services for Massachusetts Department of Public Works in Northampton
  • Video of learners interviewing each other and evaluating their experience in Next Steps
  • Workplace Spanish course offered at Northampton State Hospital
  • UMass workers receive 100% work release time for class attendance
  • Very positive independent evaluation of LMWE services from the Stone Center, Wellesley College
  • Designated Noteworthy Business Education Partnership by Department of Education
  • Undergraduate course section on tutoring techniques in worker education
  • Conference presentation, Interactive Lesson Planning
  • Conference presentation, Innovative Program Design (at Quinsigamond Community)
  • Conference presentation, Overall Program Design, Workplace Education: Today and Tomorrow  (at Greenfield Community)
  • Next Steps: Empowerment Education for Blue-collar Workers


  • Internal dissemination of 20-page review of program activities
  • Diversity issues workshop to 150 Physical Plant employees
  • Launch of Next Steps module series
  • Start of UMass operating funds for LMWE
  • Launch of Health Education and Literacy Project on campus, involving five workers in curriculum planning
  • First learner book published, Joe Gregoire’s Journal
  • Launch of Spanish for the Workplace at Northampton State Hospital
  • First non-grant operating funds provided, via an award from AFSCME International
  • Launch of Next Steps: LMWE offerings that address basic skills beyond workplace ESOL, literacy, and GED, i.e., leadership, communication, problem-solving, team-work, critical thinking, diversity
  • First newsletter for participant learner writings published, The Learner Letter


  • Host campus visit by Labor Secretary Paul Eustice
  • Printing of Blueprint for Workplace Education, a guide to LMWE
  • Positive program evaluation from independent evaluators on and off campus
  • Presentation at statewide programs meeting, Effective Recruitment Design
  • Launch of Northampton State Hospital Project
  • Spotlight Award from State Workplace Education for innovative recruitment practices


  • Start of LMWE classes in workplace ESOL and adult basic education
  • Production and workplace airing of LMWE recruitment video that stars frontline campus workers
  • Launch of tripartite, 20-person Advisory Committee (members include Chancellor Oswald Tippo; Chairperson Grant Ingle)
  • Public Launch of LMWE at Chancellor’s House in September
  • Approval of LMWE funding proposal in August
  • Conceptualization of LMWE in the spring
  • Identification of funding for worker education services by AFSCME member and UMass janitor, Paul Barrows, in January